Hugh Gusterson

Hugh Gusterson
Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs
Hortense Amsterdam House 101
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Militarism, nuclear culture, anthropology of science, ethics, international security, public anthropology, methods.

Dr. Hugh Gusterson is a Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Dr. Gusterson’s research focuses on the intersection of science and security studies with a particular interest in the ways knowledge claims are made to seem true.  Author and co-editor of six books, he has written for academic and popular audiences on nuclear weapons, counterinsurgency,  drone warfare, and the social life of algorithms.  He also has a regular column for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.  His current research is on the polygraph.


Current Research

Dr. Gusterson is working as a Guggenheim Fellow to complete a book tentatively titled Tinkering with Armageddon: Nuclear Weapons Science After the Cold War.  Based on many years of fieldwork, the book reconstructs the U.S. decision to give up nuclear testing after the cold war and analyzes the ways in which the community of nuclear weapons scientists has reinvented itself in the absence of its core practice for the production of nuclear knowledge.  Dr. Gusterson is also concluding a stint of research on the polygraph, for which he interviewed polygraphers and their subjects and undertook training as a polygrapher.



Ph.D. 1992, Stanford University
M.A. 1986, Stanford University
M.Sc. 1982, University of Pennsylvania
B.A. 1980 (Modern History), Cambridge University, first class Honours


Dr. Gusterson's full CV is here.


2019  González, R. J., Gusterson, H., Houtman, G. eds. Militarization: A Reader. Duke University Press.

2019  Gusterson, H. and Besteman, C. eds. Life by AlgorithmsUniversity of Chicago Press.

2016  Gusterson, H. Drone: Remote Control Warfare. Boston: MIT Press, 2016.

2010  Anderson, D.S., H. Gusterson. Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America. (Report to The Century Council). Fairfax, VA: George Mason University

2009  Gusterson, H., and C. Besteman, eds. The Insecure American.  Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press.

2009  Union of Concerned Scientists (1 of 3 lead editors). The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual: Or, Notes on Demilitarizing American Society. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

2005  Besteman, C., and H. Gusterson, eds. Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong: Anthropologists Talk Back.  Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press.

2004  Gusterson, H. People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear ComplexMinneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

1999   Weldes, J., M. Laffey, H. Gusterson, and R. Duvall, eds. Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities, and the Production of Danger.  Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

1996  Gusterson, H. Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2019  Gusterson, H. Drone Warfare in Waziristan and the New Military HumanismCurrent Anthropology 60(S19):77-86.

2017  Gusterson, H. "Homework: Toward a Critical Ethnography of the University." American Ethnologist 44(3):435-450.

2017  Gusterson, H.  "From Brexit to Trump: Anthropology and the Rise of Nationalist Populism."  American Ethnologist 44(2):209-214.

2014  Gusterson, H. “Toward an anthropology of drones.” In M. Evangelista and H. Shue, eds., The American Way of Bombing: Changing Ethical and Legal Norms from Flying Fortresses to Drones. Cornell Univ. Press, pp. 191-206.

2012  Gusterson, H. “Can the insurgent speak?” In T. Barkawi and K. Stanski, eds., Orientalism and War. Hurst, pp. 83-104.

2008  Gusterson, H. “Nuclear futures: Anticipatory knowledge, expert judgment, and the lack that cannot be filled,” Science and Public Policy 35(8): 551-560.

2008  Gusterson, H. “Paranoid potbellied Stalinist gets nuclear weapons: How the U.S. print media cover North Korea,” Nonproliferation Review 15(1): 21-42.

2001  Gusterson, H. “The virtual nuclear weapons laboratory in the New World Order,American Ethnologist 28 (1): 417-437.

1999  Gusterson, H. “Nuclear weapons and the other in the Western imagination,” Cultural Anthropology 14(1): 111-143.



2019:  Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Scholarship (Research)
2019:  Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
2017:  Chicago/Kent College of Law Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize (for my book Drone).
2016:  Buchdahl Lectureship, North Carolina State University
2014-15:  Resident scholar, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
2014:  Scholar's Award, National Science Foundation
2013-15:  President-elect, American Ethnological Society
2013:  President’s Award, American Anthropological Association

Classes Taught

Anth 1000:  Substances and Society
Anth 1002:  Sociocultural Anthropology
Anth 6391:  Topics: Capitalism and Neoliberalism
Anth 6391:  Topics: Social Study of Science and Technology


Last updated March 17, 2017